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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis and Dissertation-ISU Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Corinne Zimmerman


In recent years, both achievement in math and science and interest in these subjects have been decreasing. Additionally, the number of individuals entering careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) is lower than the projected need of personnel in these areas. Particularly concerning is the disproportionately low number of women remaining in STEM majors in college and entering into STEM careers. Existing literature in this area suggests that both individual characteristics and the early childhood experiences that expose children to science learning later shape their interest in science and their likelihood to choose STEM majors and careers. Acknowledging the importance of both individual differences and childhood experiences, the current study examined a variety of predictors of the extent to which both female and male students’ intended careers included training in STEM. This study examined the role that parental involvement, informal science educational experiences throughout childhood, teacher influence, and individual differences in persistence and curiosity play in shaping science interest. For both men and women, high parental educational involvement predicted higher frequency of informal STEM learning experiences, which in turn predicted higher levels of curiosity. For both genders, curiosity was also predicted by influence from favorite female teachers. For women, higher levels of curiosity predicted higher levels of persistence, which predicted higher likelihood of choosing a STEM career. For men, higher curiosity and higher persistence predicted STEM career entry. This study adds to the current literature examining predictors of STEM career choice and explains how parental and family factors, school factors, and individual differences interact to explain gender differential pathways to STEM career interest.


Imported from ProQuest Christie_ilstu_0092N_11049.pdf


Page Count


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